Name: Jefferson Helton
Age at time of Dissection: 57
Type of Dissection: Both Ascending and Descending
Date of Aortic Dissection: 27 April 2010
Tell Us Your Story:
I was in Austin at the Univ. of Texas campus on 4-27-10 showing my daughter my Alma Mater. She had been accepted to NYU and UT and was trying to decide where to go. I felt an extreme ripping pain in my chest that brought me to my knees. I felt like I had been shot. I got up and my daughter and I walked to her appointment about a hundred yards away. I told her I had to sit down at that point and was sweating profusely. She said she was going to call 911. I told her not to, but she disobeyed me, thank God.
I was four blocks from St Davids Hospital which was one of the best hospitals in Austin. The ambulance got there immediately. My pain quickly subsided. EKG and cardiac enymes were normal and the ER cardiologist was ready to discharge me. I mentioned in passing that I could not move my right leg for a few minutes. His demeanor immediately changed from joking around to becoming very serious. He ordered a CT Scan and I was greeted by my CardioVascular Thoracic surgeon within minutes and told I was in a life threatening situation, that I had an aortic dissection that was both ascending and descending. My surgeon described the surgery which involved replacing the damaged ascending portion of my aorta with a dacron cloth. My wife was in route and would be at the hospital in about 30 minutes. I realized that I may not survive the surgery and asked if I could wait until she arrived but I was told the surgery couldn’t wait.
It is now seven months later. I still have the descending dissection and am taking beta blocker (toprol) and Lisinopril for blood pressure. (I never took any prescription meds pre-dissection). My Ct scans and echo-cardiac studies have been good and I am exercising, eating right, and managing stress. (even though the physicians said that none of these factors caused the dissection). I actually feel better now than before the dissection.
I live and work in small towns in northeast Texas. I drove to see my son in Chicago by myself a week before the dissection. If the dissection has happened in any of these places, if my daughter had not called 911, if I hadn’t mentioned my inability to move my leg and the ER Cardiologist pick up on that, or if the surgeon who happened to be on call was not an expert on dissections, I have no doubt that I would have died.
Every day I wake up is a wonderful day and a blessing.
May the good Lord bless all (patients and families) who have had to deal with aortic dissections or other health issues.
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